My husband Scott is a huge foodie. He absolutely adores shows like “Chopped,” “Next Food Network Star,” and “Restaurant Impossible.” With only one TV in our house, and with he and I getting to see very little of each other as it is, I often end up plopped on the floor working on some craft while he watches his shows and tells me what meal he would make with the mystery ingredients. It’s pretty amusing. So, when TLC announced that they were adding “Craft Wars” to their lineup, I gave a little whoop! It would only be fair for me to win the wrestling match for the remote on this one!
I also have to admit that I’m a huge Tori Spelling fan. I know, I know, but I love how she’s risen above all the junk in her past to create her own little empire. I totally admire her tenacity, inventiveness, and ability to not take herself seriously. So finding out that she was the host made me perform little circular hops of joy around the living room -- what can I tell you? I’m very demonstrative in my happiness! I was so excited that Scott even offered to set the TiVo for me, since I’m not the swiftest when it comes to electronics.
So it was with great expectations that I put down the project I was working on and literally leaped into the prime TV-viewing spot on the couch to watch the premiere of “Craft Wars.” As the show began, I had to grab a napkin to wipe the drool from the corner of my mouth. The craft store Michaels had created a Willy Wonka-esque wonderland of impressive supplies. The beautifully-arrayed shelves reminded me of a much neater, color-coordinated version of our warehouse. Items were displayed in bins, bottles, and buckets -- totally impractical for what we do, but oh, how pretty, and oh, how organized! There was also a wood shop that would make Norm Abram envious, sewing machines for each contestant, and enough glue guns to arm the huge craft tables at the corporate Christmas parties we put together. In a word, it was paradise!
The show follows the standard reality competition formula:
- A big clock on the wall (time pressure)
- Oddball items that must be used (think outside the box)
- Contestant interviews (to add that human connection)
- Three experts in the field (judgement)
- A host (interruption/panic-inducer)
- Clever editing (to make it look like the contestants won’t finish in time, and emphasizes every snap, snipe, and stapled finger)
- And of course, the $10,000 prize (incentive)
The show began with three contestants and an elimination round challenge.
Now, my husband’s usual reaction to his cooking challenge shows is to respond immediately with what he would do with the secret ingredient. But unlike him, I found myself sitting there, frozen in abject terror. I couldn’t think of anything that I would do! It was weird, because I spend my life coming up with ideas for crafts, parties, and games. I think it had to do with the short time limits on the show... which is also strange, because I deal with high-pressure, low-time situations constantly!
So, I was left to wonder... Is it because the show/materials/challenges weren’t very inspiring? Or is it because at my heart of hearts I’m a non-competitive person, so my brain just shuts off at the notion of competing? Now, Scott would tell you that I’m super-competitive. He still won’t let me live down the time I got incredibly intense over a game of table tennis that he eventually won 2 to 1... but I just don’t see that in myself!
Anyway, back to the show...
I want to love it. I really do. But unfortunately it seems to lack something, and I have a sneaking suspicion that it might be the personalities. What makes all of the cooking shows that Scott loves so much are the characters who make up the show. It’s the rapport and side comments during the competition that links the competitors and allows us to judge and evaluate what’s going on. I think that’s what’s lacking in “Craft Wars” -- there’s no humor, no wit, no spark. I want that excitement, that dread, fear, panic, and ultimate overcoming of each challenge. I want to hear the inner workings, see the creative process happening, and have something to yell at the TV about! (Nooooo, don’t use spray adhesive and then try to run it through the sewing machine! ) Hopefully the show will gain that in the next episode or two. I’ll definitely watch a few more times, as I don’t think it’s fair to judge a show by the first episode alone. And quite frankly, I want to see what other challenges they come up with!
On that note, I’d better go check the TiVo to make sure it’s got a season pass...